It wasn’t bad enough that he was gorgeous. Or that his athletic biceps were nearly bursting at the seems of his short-sleeved dark navy blue cotton/poly blend uniform. Or that he called me Miss, rather than the ever-hated Ma’am, which made me feel like an old lady – unless, that is, a well-mannered Southern Boy was using the term – particularly one in a hat, tight jeans, and cowboy boots.
And here I was, in my early-thirties, and at the height of my most vanity-saturated phase in life, staring up into his big, blue eyes from the driver’s seat of my car, dressed in my pink fluffy robe – nothing but free bouncing kibbles and shaggy bits beneath, and unable to say a word at my humiliation of my current state of appearance. And, he just had to be hot, dammit. Why couldn’t he be at the end of his beat, tired and wrinkly?
I silently cursed at my shitty fortune to get Hot Cop the day I left my house looking like I was dredged from the Willamette River and left on the curb to dry out. The evening prior saw my then-husband (and now-dear friend) Jay and I out late for a tequila-infused birthday celebration at our local Cheers-esque joint, where everyone knew our name and poured heavy-handed drinks accordingly. The morning after showed no mercy in hiding the fact through bloodshot eyes, puffy and swollen, and a dry and sticky mouth, which I’m quite sure permeated a lovely smell about as good as a rhino’s ass.
Hot Cop pulled his sun glasses from his eyes – you know how Ponch used to, grasping the gold wire frame at his right temple between his thumb and forefinger, tugging at them with authority, and I couldn’t help but think of the male stripper at my friend Kim’s Bacholerette Party a few years earlier. Maybe if I pulled out my best Bordeaux voice, with a prowling “You get those glasses off, you bad boy” and threw some dolla bills his way he would rip the uniform off in one swoop and start dancing right there on Bethany Boulevard?
“Miss?” He repeated in a firm voice. “License, insurance, and registration, please.”
Mascara from the night before was smeared across my face, and I knew I looked like a crack whore – not that there’s anything wrong with crack whores – but in my my vainglorious state of mind, I found myself momentarily sulking back into a person I am not – withdrawn and quiet. But, because my Father had done well to teach me of the importance of a smile and good eye contact, I shirked off my insecurities and obeyed, smiling wide and genuine, meeting his stare, and answering questions about the illegal left turn I had allegedly taken only minutes earlier.
I made bumbling pleasantries about the weather as I handed Hot Cop my paperwork, fussing with my boy-short hair that was standing on end, an obvious root of the term “bed head”. He smiled politely and went back to his car as I let my forehead fall to the steering wheel, mortified at myself for sleeping in and having to rush out the door to pick up my daughter at her friend’s house.
The time spent waiting in my car for Hot Cop to return with my judgement dragged on slowly, and my dehydrated body had given way to a headache of massive proportions. I tapped my fingers impatiently on the steering wheel, drawing my robe closed as tightly as possible and suddenly feeling ridiculously vulnerable. I snapped the rear-view mirror toward me and smiled, offering me Hot Cop’s point-of-view, and saw that my unbrushed teeth were not only a sea of mossy yellow simple sugar excrement, but cilantro was visibly stuck between my ivories in three separate places. Really?
I furiously scratched at my teeth with my fingernail, further mortified at my experience with Hot Cop. What an asshole I looked like, I confirmed to myself, pushing the mirror away and falling back in my seat with a loud sigh, eager to get the hell out of there, already. Instead, the minutes passed slowly, and frustrated, I trained my eyes upon the ceiling of my car, wishing for some omnipotent being to somehow grant mercy on me and the embarrassing situation I had found myself in.
The minutes seemed to grow longer and longer. Nine, Twelve, Fifteen. What was taking him so long? Was something wrong? Was I in trouble that I didn’t know about? I took inventory of my life over the last weeks, scanning my memory for any garish offenses I may have committed, but other than a night of drinking at a cheesy strip mall Mexican bar, I couldn’t see much wrong done. Turns out I’m a rule follower. How about that.
At 19 minutes my patience had been spent, and I turned around in my seat to look at him, half expecting to find him asleep. What did I know; maybe Hot Cop was narcoleptic? Instead, I found him on the phone, his beautiful head hung downward, laughing. What the fuck was so funny?
Suddenly, he drew his head upward, saw me, and, wide-eyed, awkwardly jumped to attention, hanging up his phone, and replacing upon his head his hat that had been sitting on his dashboard. As I watched him open his door, I turned around, furious, wondering what the hell he had been doing. Hot Cop had pissed me off.
Moments later he was at my window, and in my defiance I waited until he knocked on the glass to roll it down. Turning to look up at him I noticed his face was bright red, and the confident authority he had displayed when he first had approached me, mossy teeth and all, was no longer present, and he bit his lip as if he might laugh.
“Your license. And… stuff,” He said, stiffly holding out to me the things that I had pulled from my glove box less than twenty minutes earlier, before offering me a curt clemency, and practically speed walking back to his car. What was going on? In my confusion, I turned to call after him, and as I did four O.B. tampons shook loose from the center of the insurance paperwork I had provided to Hot Cop. Oh. My. God.
As he sped away from the scene, I began to laugh aloud- you know, the kind that comes complete with snorts and tears, as I released all the stupid bullshit insecurities I had been feeling. Oh my God, this was funny. Sure, I was the asshole in the story, the butt of the joke as it were, but, hey, it’s a safe bet I would’ve laughed at me too if I were in Hot Cop’s position. So, I figure I gave him a story- one that he probably posted on Facebook during that 19 minutes he sat too embarrassed to come back to my car, and one that he probably still shares at parties today, several years later. And, as it turns out, considering I’m sharing it here, I guess I gave myself a story, too.